I know. Last week Josh promised a continued look at his stance
on whether or not superheroes should kill. But along the way
between then and now, he got a job. A good one. And for us
here at Fanboy Planet, possibly an exciting one. Will he return?
We hope so. But in the meantime, he has supplied us with this
substitute column by Brendan McGinley:
me while I take the long road to a short point:
the great benefits of living in New York for anyone, but comic
fans especially, is the massive library system. I spent a
full two weeks plundering the Fifth Avenue branch for treasures
both dearly familiar (e.g. the works of Will Eisner) and salaciously
rare (those of Winsor McCay).
the librarys resources, I wandered midtown Manhattan,
drunk on the last century of comics. I needed more.
Virgin Megastore in Times Square, which, after Jim Hanleys
Universe, may have the best selection of comics in New York.
Unlike most comic stores, Virgin has the money, space and
time to stock a wide selection, and unlike all comic stores,
they dont bother with periodicals: only trades. That
means superheroes share space evenly with any type of story
you could want. I dig this, because while I love the potential
stories implicit in superpowers, Im weary of the soap
opera that comes with them.
I suspect, is a large part of the problem many people have
with superheroes. One reason superheroes are ridiculous is
their powers, challenges and even timelines are distended
over decades. When our ancestors told superhero stories, they
remembered to give them deaths as well as lives. In a commercial
market, thats just not going to happen until no one
cares anyway (Sherlock Holmes probably being the first anti-casualty
argue that Warren Ellis DARK BLUE was a superpower story
that had the good sense to end while it was still satisfying
(superpower, sci-fi, tomayto, tomahto, I still saw a man peeling
buildings with his mind). The same is true of Garth Ennis
PREACHER, even if Jesse rarely invoked The Word by
is a vitriolic abuser of super-characters, and he often plays
this to great effect. But with success and a solid fan base
has come the freedom to do whatever he wantswhich would
be a great thing, if he could be counted on to keep challenging
he cant. Every other work of his takes increasingly
easier stabs at making fun of super-heroes. This is not a
hard thing to do, folks; theyre wearing full-body spandex.
Yeah, some superhero comics are aimed at adults, but making
fun of Superman is like deconstructing Red Riding Hood (sorry
Josh, but its true, and if its not, it should
superheroes are iconic because theyre simple, universal
I dont like Jerry Falwell, but not only is
it easy to show how stupid he is, you only need to do it once.
Going to town on ol Jerry every other time I sit down
at the keyboard
would undermine my dismissing him. Its fine to dislike
superheroes, but it hurts to see a good writer taking the
at superheroes is not only a paltry elitism, it keeps the
reader outside of the story. Its like making fun of
Goths and rednecks in PREACHER; sure its fun, but itd
take more skill to make the reader react favorably to them.
know that Ennis has it. He expressed the same sentiments much
better in THE PUNISHER KILLS THE MARVEL UNIVERSE. This is
nothing but satire of super-heroes, yet its accomplished
with the reservation and craft to create a powerful story,
drawing the reader in with dialogue and developments that
vibrate between awesome, hilarious and heart-breaking.
X-Men pose on the moon for their aborted final battle, their
words jibe subtly at the over-wrought scripts of Claremont,
but it doesnt detract from the nuclear bomb that suddenly
explodes in their faces. And when a bitter Wolverine brawls
with the Punisher over their deaths, the satire yields to
the intensity. You can practically hear their screams, both
wrong and doomed by the hatred and love driving them.
next time Wolverine met Punisher in County Ennis, he talked
like a Baltimore longshoresman and got played for great
but easy laughs. Hey, I laughed, and I laughed hard,
as a reader. As a writer, I was disappointed and frustrated
that yet again, Ennis career is shrinking rather than
not just superheroes; the remainder of his work is cowboys
(sometimes in the guise of soldiers and mobsters) gushing
over the same movies Garth likes, and discussing what
makes a man. Throw in a capable, resilient woman and a lovable
loser (smart bet is hes named Soap) for
comedic relief and a disfigured villain whos actually
not much of a threat, and you have the ingredients for about
half of Ennis work. Bugger well and serve chilled.
great in PREACHER, and I still love it there, but its
too idiosyncratic to repeat (can you say FURY, Garth? Can
you say phoned in?) Hell always have his
core fan base, Im sure, but he could have a lot more
with another project as revolutionary as PREACHER or variant
as HEARTLAND. Ennis has been compared to director Quentin
Tarantino throughout his
career; itd be a shame if that included burning out
in a big way.
us know what you think of Brendan's subbing job -- should
we be asking for more?